Monday, June 7, 2021

Connie Berry's "The Art of Betrayal"

Connie Berry is the author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries, set in the UK and featuring an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. Like her protagonist, Berry was raised by antiques dealers who instilled in her a passion for history, fine art, and travel. During college she studied at the University of Freiburg in Germany and St. Clare's College, Oxford, where she fell under the spell of the British Isles. In 2019 Berry won the IPPY Gold Medal for Mystery and was a finalist for the Agatha Award’s Best Debut. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and is on the board of Guppies and her local Sisters in Crime chapter. Besides reading and writing mysteries, Berry loves history, foreign travel, cute animals, and all things British. She lives in Ohio with her husband and adorable Shih Tzu, Emmie.

Here Berry dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest Kate Hamilton Mystery series—The Art of Betrayal:
Doesn’t every author dream of seeing her story and her characters, on the big screen? I do.

My writing process might be called cinematic. I visualize the scenes in my head as I write, noticing the background and light source, the physical movements of the characters, and their changing expressions as they interact. I hope my readers can picture the scenes, too.

The Art of Betrayal is a traditional mystery set in Suffolk, England. The main character is Kate Hamilton, an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. She’s helped in her investigations by Detective Inspector Tom Mallory of the Suffolk Constabulary. The book opens with Kate, tending her friend Ivor Tweedy’s antiquities shop while he recovers from hip surgery. She’s thrilled when a reclusive widow consigns an ancient Chinese jar—until the jar is stolen and a body turns up in the middle of the May Fair pageant. With no insurance covering the loss, Tweedy may be ruined. As DI Tom Mallory searches for the victim’s missing daughter, Kate notices puzzling connections with a well-known local legend. This is Kate’s most puzzling case yet, pitting her against spring floods, a creepy mansion in the Suffolk countryside, the misty depths of Anglo-Saxon history, and a clever killer with an old secret.

So which director and which actors would bring my book to life?

My fantasy director is Simon Langton who directed the 1995 BBC miniseries Pride & Prejudice. What I admire about that production is its utter faithfulness, not only to Austen’s text but also to the tone of the novel. Langton, who was recently interviewed about the production, said its phenomenal success was due in part to the fact that the movie was filmed entirely on location rather than in a studio. I was lucky enough to see the house chosen for Longbourn—Luckington Court, a Grade 2 listed house of creamy Cotswold stone in Wiltshire. All the Longbourn scenes were filmed in the house and grounds, including my favorite scene in the book and perhaps in all of literature—the confrontation between Eliza Bennet and Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the “prettyish kind of little wilderness.” Luckington Court actually has one.

Langton also praised the casting, with Jennifer Ehle as an intelligent and smiling Lizzie and a brooding Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. As much as I love these actors, my choices for the leading roles in The Art of Betrayal would be different.

For Kate, my fantasy actress is Carey Mulligan, although I’d have to dye her hair brown and give her blue contact lenses. Carey is a versatile actress, known for costume dramas. I think she’d capture Kate’s energy, wit, and vulnerability. That’s the quality I love most about both Carey and Kate—their vulnerable exteriors paired with inner cores of steel. I loved Carey Mulligan as Edith Pretty in The Dig and as Daisy in The Great Gatsby. She does a brilliant American accent, too.

For DI Tom Mallory, my fantasy choice is a younger Ralph Fiennes (pronounced Raif Fines, by the way). Like Mulligan, Fiennes can play everything from the hilarious concierge in The Grand Hotel Budapest (2014) to Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films to his brilliant portrayal of Amon Goeth, the SS villain in Schindler’s List. Fiennes has the right look for Tom, too—spare, almost ascetic, with a hint of passion beneath the surface. The best part? He was born in Suffolk.

Now, the only thing left now is to convince a film studio to make the movie.
Visit Connie Berry's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Art of Betrayal.

--Marshal Zeringue